October 18, 2021

Wins Women

Wheres Your Shopping & Women

23 Newsletter Writers on Their Favorite Newsletters

7 min read

Photo-Illustration: by the Cut; Photo Getty images

Newsletters these days are a vast sea, and your inbox is but a small vessel. Amid the current boom, discerning recommendations are a blessing. Here are 23 prominent sletter slingers with weird, beautiful, funny, and jealousy-inspiring picks.

The Audacity, by Roxane Gay, is a favorite, and not just because she’s my friend and pod partner. Roxane turned her newsletter into a platform, which feels more collaborative than the newsletter genre. She highlights new writers, champions transparency, and builds community. I also recommend The Plug, by Sherrell Dorsey. It’s a weekly brief with really sharp analysis on technology by a Black woman tech pro and with a racial-justice lens. It is data driven and accessible and smarter than 96 percent of all mainstream tech reporting out there.” —Tressie McMillan Cottom (essaying)

“I’d love to recommend David Davis, a newsletter that was originally just about people named David but has since expanded to cover bad dads, fucking your friends, feeling “valid,” and David Hyde Pierce, a long-standing personal interest. It’s charming but not precious, thoughtful, funny, often hot, and cuts through a great deal of treacle.” —Danny Lavery (The Chatner)

“I have a long list of my favorite newsletters on the Tabs page, but if I had to pick one that people probably don’t already know about, it would be Kyle Chayka and Daisy Alioto’s Dirt. It’s loosely about streaming and social media but just as often about suburban aesthetics or the Sims architecture rabbit hole Alex Marraccini went down during the pandemic. I like that it’s concise and that it’s experimental in both content and business model (they recently crowdfunded it by selling NFTs), and Kyle and Daisy have an eye for underappreciated freelancers. It’s like getting a note about something interesting from a smart friend every day(ish).” —Rusty Foster (Today in Tabs)

“I’m not in recovery, although as someone who has lived through, and lives with, whatever-you-got in terms of addictions, I find [A.J. Daulerio’s] The Small Bow to be an extraordinarily great resource that also happens to be beautifully written. Kind of like reading ahead on the syllabus for a test I’m going to have to take later on in the semester.” —Luke O’Neil (Welcome to Hell World)

“I love Monica McLaughlin’s monthly antique-jewelry newsletter, Dearest. It’s filled with close-ups of weird and magnificent old jewels and curios, with gossipy, historical backstories for context. Memento mori, pig-shaped evening bags, coral diadems?? It makes me weak. I almost hate it!” —Edith Zimmerman (Drawing Links)

“Jason Stewart doesn’t just DJ (as Them Jeans) and co-host a podcast (How Long Gone) — he’s also a great food writer, and his newsletter, Let Me Get a Bite, is smart and funny whether he’s grappling with the implications of the Travis Scott Happy Meal or contemplating the paradoxes of Everything Bagel ice cream. He updates it when he feels like it, which is sporadically, so sign up and enjoy the pleasant shock when a new one drops.” —Jonah Weiner (Blackbird Spyplane)

“Sasha Frere-Jones’s newsletter, S/FJ, does just what I love newsletters to do, which is to provide a buffet of perfect obscurities and personal passions that I never would have otherwise discovered, like “a one-man ‘transcendental drone’ band.” —Rachel Seville Tashjian (Opulent Tips)

“Imagine if Ad Age primarily focused on the business acumen of Master P instead of Gary Vee. That’s Trapital, by Dan Runcie: a newsletter about the business side of hip-hop that bypasses all the fluff and b.s. and treats the industry with the respect it should have been getting for decades now.” —Ernest Wilkins (Office Hours)

From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy. I love that one. I really do think she’s so smart and interesting, and I’m always learning something new from it. It’s about food but so much more than that.” —Jami Attenberg (Craft Talk)

“In Soft Leaves, Kate Ray — who is now working in a vegetarian restaurant as a career change — writes about being a line cook and includes recipes, providing an ongoing, behind-the-scenes kitchen-worker insight that’s missing in food media.” —Alicia Kennedy (From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy)

“I’m a huge fan of Chaoyang Trap, which focuses on ‘everyday life on the Chinese internet.’ The fun illustrations and wide range of topics keep things entertaining, and the laid-back conversations make the whole project feel personal and human. It’s like podcasts without the worst part of podcasts: hearing people talk at length ineloquently.” —Joshua Minsoo Kim (Tone Glow)

“For all the time I spend obsessing over my skin — hours! days! weeks! — I don’t know a ton about the beauty industry, and I haven’t found any trades that are accessible for my (lack of) industry knowledge. Darian Harvin’s newsletter, Beauty IRL, is a must-read for me: The newsletter keeps an eye on beauty-industry partnerships, laws, trends, biases, brands. There aren’t any recommendations or product reviews; she actually covers what’s going on in the world of beauty as a rigorous beat.” —Hunter Harris (Hung Up)

“Recently, I’ve been enjoying Ed Zitron’s newsletter, Where’s Your Ed At. He’s a PR guy who’s based in Vegas and does consumer-tech stuff, and his posts are mostly about media or tech or the intersection of the two. His analysis is sharp and witty, and every time some media thing has made me want to bang my head against a wall lately, it seems he’s already written a post about it.” —Elizabeth Spiers (My New Band Is)

“A newly discovered favorite of mine is The Unpublishable, by Jessica DeFino; DeFino critically examines the beauty industry’s tight grasp on consumers and popular culture, from evolving beauty standards to the deft marketing tactics used to sell people more products.” —Terry Nguyen (gen yeet)

“Stacy-Marie Ishmael’s The Main Event is a long-standing favorite of mine. It’s consistently both concise and deep. Reading it on Sundays is my way of taking a breath and heading into a new week.” —Ann Friedman (The Ann Friedman Weekly)

Air Gordon pt. 2, former Pitchfork and Outline staffer Jeremy Gordon’s newsletter, and the newsletter of business-law-media writer Matthew Zeitlin. Both are great for the same reason: Two writers who should always be writing more having a place to riff on the stuff that’s too smart and too canny and too wide-ranging for wherever they’re normally published, but if you’re lucky enough to find your way to it, you feel like you’re in on a spectacular set of secrets whenever they do it in public.” —Foster Kamer (FOSTERTALK)

Money Stuff, by Matt Levine. Levine’s daily chronicle of the world of finance — where everything is securities fraud (unless it’s seating charts) and it can be good for your career to lose a billion dollars — is something like a serialized novel in which a revolving set of familiar concepts and characters work their way through new and increasingly bizarre scenarios. The frequency, the wit, the real insights into the minds of people and the markets they make remind one of another great writer who was once a banker: P.G. Wodehouse, except he never had access to a Bloomberg terminal or had to explain what the deal is with GameStop.” —Matthew Zeitlin (Matthew Zeitlin’s Newsletter)

“My wife’s! It’s called Chosen By Choice, and it’s about becoming Jewish. It’s so positive and good, and I love it.” —Bari Weiss (Common Sense With Bari Weiss)

“I’m allergic to everything online right now, but A List of People I Am Mad At, by Scaachi Koul, (which is exactly what it sounds like) reminds me of the Olde Timey internet of my youth: funny, skeptical, vivid, and extremely grumpy. Reading Koul’s words is like slipping into a bathtub full of bathtub gin: soothing yet energizing. I go from growling to chuckling in seconds.” —Heather Havrilesky (Ask Polly and Ask Molly)

“I love Embedded, which is a newsletter about internet trends and culture by Kate Lindsay and Nick Catucci. It’s smart, concise, and has these Friday Q&As with extremely online people about their browsing habits that I’m extremely jealous of.” —Charlie Warzel (Galaxy Brain)

“Is Patreon a newsletter? I’d say Sophie Lewis on Patreon (Reproutopia). I like complicated ideas, but sometimes I have trouble understanding them. I always understand Sophie. Plus she has a nice accent.” —Sarah Miller (The Real Sarah Miller)

“Ryan Broderick’s Garbage Day offers an eclectic and often uproarious guide to the day’s trending topics, viral food videos, forum dramas, and bad tweets, with just enough politics sprinkled in to give it some heft. One of the few culture publications that represents the internet as an international phenomenon, rather than merely an American one.” —Casey Newton (Platformer)

The Pause from On Being is the letter companion to the beloved public-radio program that for two decades has provided some of the most substantive, necessary, and generous public conversations of our time — a contemplative space that slakes something elemental in us amid a culture that increasingly rewards distraction and reaction.” —Maria Popova (Brain Pickings)

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